Air-Launched Weapons

USAF seeks interim 500 lb bomb with moving target capability for F-35

13 February 2017
An F-35A, at Edwards AFB, California, is pictured with the F-35 Systems Development and Demonstration Weapons Suite the aircraft is designed to carry. The USAF now wants to add an interim 500 lb-class bomb with a moving target capability. Source: Edwards AFB

The US Air Force (USAF) is seeking an interim 500 lb-class weapon with a moving target capability for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

A `sources sought' notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website on 10 February calls for information from the US industry only on a non-developmental precision-guided munition (PGM) capable of being integrated onto the F-35A, ahead of an expected request for proposals (RFP).

As noted by the Air Combat Command's request for information (RFI), an initial 400 weapons are being sought of a total inventory of 1,200. The first contract is expected to be awarded in the third quarter of fiscal year 2017, with deliveries of the initial order to begin no later than six months after the contract date.

"In response to an Air Combat Command (ACC) Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) requirement, the USAF is seeking a time sensitive, interim solution to add a 500 lb-class Precision Guided Munition (PGM) with moving and manoeuvring target capability that is mechanically, electrically, and logically compatible with F-35 Block 3F aircraft Operational Flight Program (OFP). This munition must consistently impact moving targets traveling along a constant heading with a uniform velocity up to 70 mph and manoeuvring targets performing ±0.2 g manoeuvres with velocities up to 40 mph. The capability cannot impact the current fielding schedule for F-35 Block 3F, namely 15 May 2018," the RFI states.

Responses are due no later than 15:00 Central Daylight Time (CDT) 12 March.

The F-35A is already earmarked to carry the Raytheon GBU-12 500 lb PGM and the GBU-38 500 lb Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), but these weapons do not currently have the required moving target capability.

Possible contenders for the requirement include the Boeing GBU-54/B Laser JDAM based on the MK 82 or BLU-111 500 lb bombs; as well as the Lockheed Martin Dual Mode Plus LGB kit fitted to the MK 82 or BLU-111.

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